Sometimes, home has a heartbeat.

Every bird must fly its nest

It is the rule of nature

Once old enough,

Every little fledgling

Must stretch unsteady wings

And fly away

To fend for itself

 

But umbilical cords

People refuse to cut

Too often wrap themselves

As nooses around

Their children’s dreams

Leashes to hold

Precious offspring in their backyards

Stopping them from running

Bright-eyed, following their fantasies

 

My mother let her children

Seek their own fortunes

Make their own choices,

Pull the strings

To their own puppet shows

Mould their futures

Like the play doh childish fingers

Would fiddle with

 

Now, as foreign roads

Stretch themselves out before me

Like the lines crisscrossing

My mother’s palm

And I taste home

In the spices of food

A thousand miles away

Alleyways behind weathered churches

Reminiscent of the streets

Behind my school

The smell of hot tea

Transporting me to serene evenings

A book in my hand

And a familiar smile

On a weathered face

 

And I know

When the weight of homesickness

Becomes too heavy

For my heart to bear

There’s a light burning for me

Somewhere beyond these

Neverending miles

A beacon beckoning

Her ship to shore

Waiting to grasp my hands

With palms roughened by years

Of washing clothes and dishes

Of bandaging wounds and

Untangling a million little messes

Home, shifting through time

Through the boundaries of states

Winding up, always

In the rest of a tired head

On a familiar knee.

 

– Gautami.

To the woman who makes a million little sacrifices in a heartbeat for us everyday, who has suffered and emerged stronger than ever. To the woman who has made us everything we are and ever will be; teacher, guiding light. Happy birthday, Amma. We love you.

 

Pixels

We humans

Are funny little creatures

Aching to capture

Our lives, one way or another

Freezing time and people

In the gloss of photographs

And pixels on a screen

 

Living in the present

But caught up in the past

With fingers itching

To scroll back

To old conversations,

Old pictures

You and me, in stasis

Our every syllable locked

In that safe corner of time

Where no one can touch it

Until I press delete

And obliterate our words

In the whirring gears

Inside my phone

 

There’s something about humans

Making us take pictures

Of things that we love

Places, people, things

Tucking them away,

Saving them in some concrete way

So we can go back

To them, time and again

 

And it takes me back

To you and me,

And our tally of pictures together:

Zero.

Promises between meetings

And partings

Never coming to fruition

Next time.

Until next time ceased

To come around

And was swept away

In your absence

And my giving up on you

 

Some love stories

They say

Are written in the stars

Burning in the high heavens

Beautiful, unattainable.

I suppose ours was writ

In the dirt tracks

Of quiet mistakes

And the all consuming guilt

Of things said and done

 

They say

Pictures speak

A thousand words

Perhaps, my love

The absence of any

Speaks a million more.

 

-Gautami

Runaway

The sky was black

Like the coffee I drank

Every sleepy morning

Like the worn shawl

Your mother draped herself in

When she took down sun-dried clothes

In chilly evenings

The light was melting gold

Like the dull glow

Nestled in my mother’s ears

And jingling around her wrists

The circle around my father’s

Thickened fingers, gripping

This morning’s newspaper

 

I was a bundle of fear

And repressed excitement

Drumming its way through

The hasty throb in my wrist

In the restless tap

Of my fingers against my thigh

Waiting as the silver hand

Ticked its way across

My watch’s dial,

Tick

Tock

Too slow, too fast

 

The night was black

Like the look on my father’s face

When he saw you hold my hand

That one evening when you

Dropped me home

Like the growing storm

When he saw me talking

On the phone, at 3 am

Like his words, telling me

I could never see you again

The light was gold

Like your voice

Telling me to get away

To pack my things,

And unpack my dreams,

And shake them out in the sunlight

When we ran from it all

 

You were late

And panic was crawling

Up the walls of my throat

Little voices in my ear

Whispering that you were

Not going to come,

That I was a fool

Young, naive, in love

Expecting a knight in shining armour

To carry me away

That I should turn back

And go back home

 

The night was black

Like the despair creeping

Into my heart

Like the light fizzling

Out of eager eyes,

Like the steady drip

Of disappointment

Scratching over rosy dreams

Like the leaky pen

I would write with

Back in school

The night was black

Like the silhouette

Walking up to me

The light was gold

Like your skin

Glowing, blazing in the lamplight

Like the smile burning

Across my cheeks,

Mirrored in your face

In the sudden taste of freedom

Writ in the curve of my lips

And the touch of your fingertips

Pulling me to run, run

Free.

 

The night was black

The colour of knowledge

Like your Abba’s wrath

The next morning

My Amma’s despair

As she stroked

My pillowcase, still smooth

From no restless head

Rumpling freshly made sheets

Her sorrow mingled, perhaps

With some grey understanding

And the quiet satisfaction

That her daughter had flown

What she could not

But the morning,

Oh, the morning was gold

Hope rising in the horizon

With a glowing, glorious sunrise

And the press of your fingers

Twined in mine

The rattle of the bus

Taking us away

To the place

Our young hearts believed

Dreams came true.

 

-Gautami

 

What is love

They say

Love is simple, love is kind

I say

Love is convoluted.

Love is

My mother pretending not to like my favourite food so I can get an extra piece

My father constantly looking over his shoulder when we’re sitting on the scooter to make sure I’m still okay.

It is my mother waking up at 5 am to prepare lunchboxes for school

It is my grey hair on my father’s head as he sits late at night sorting finances into college accounts

It is soft brown eyes, furry paws and a wet nose ,sitting in your lap and warming you

It is pieces of your heart scattered all over the world.

Love is,

Me forgiving you over and over for the same mistake, knowing you will make it again

It is choosing to remember the best in you,after you’ve shown me the opposite

It is choosing myself over you, finally.

They say

Love is beautiful

I say

It is many things.

But above all

Love is hurting

Always hurting.

-Nayantara. 

Hues

She was a whirl

When you first saw her

Her soul

A canvas of

Vibrant colour

Hope shining gold

Her smile glowing

Like the light

Of a thousand sunbeams

Hidden ‘neath her skin

 

But blended in

All of that

Was the blue

Of reserve

Of old pain, fading

Dissipating, melting

Into healing scars

 

She took your

Breath away

You, with your

Soul in shades

Of gunmetal grey

And the red-brown

Of rust

And dried blood

 

You touched her

And suddenly

Your soul was alight

Greys blending

Into yellows and orange

Of sudden, unfamiliar bliss

And the bright gold

Of budding hope

The blushing pink

Of love, blooming

With the heat

On her cheeks

 

Her love was red

Ripe, rich

With veins of gold

Little streams of hope

Slipping through

That this time

Things would not

End the same way

 

Yours was blent

With your greys

Of disillusionment

The lilac of distance

Of reserve

And the brown

Of walls standing strong

Around a beating,

Battered heart

 

But you painted

Over the lavender

Of your love

With the brush

Of indifference

Obliterating, hiding

Deepening pinks

With the harsh brown

Of growing reserve

 

Making the colours

On her canvas shift

Blue bleeding

Through the hues

Of bliss

Paint in one soul

Colouring another

 

It’s in the rainbows

On her pillowcase

And the kaleidoscope

On her best friend’s

Damp shoulder

Painting landscapes

With the ache

And heartbreak

Churning within

 

And the colours

Begin to chip away

Masks hiding

Marks of the past

Slipping away

To allow the present

To leave its scars

The sapphire of sorrow

Cutting rubies

Out of her soul

Leaving rivulets

Of the pearl-grey

Of realisation and

The scarlet 

Of bleeding regret

 

Now her canvas

Shines no more

Vibrant colour fading

Into duller hues

Gold fading

Silver rusting with

Salt water

Ink blotting out

The starlight

In her eyes

Colours painted over

With the dull white

Of apathy

Waiting for time

To paint

A new masterpiece

On her canvas.

 

-Gautami

 

Caring is not an advantage.

​What does your mind do when it has nothing to do?

Does it run in little circles like mine, hopping from one topic to the next in the most bizarre fashion?

I sit sometimes and wonder at how alone we are. We have friends and family but essentially all we have pulling us along is this flimsy body powered by an erratic soul.

It’s a stark feeling, this loneliness. It taps into our darkest fears. Or at least, mine.

It’s a defence mechanism.

It’s a fear of rejection.

I’ve found that whenever I’ve given, I’ve got none. Whenever I’ve loved, I’ve fallen. Whenever I’ve cracked the tough outer shell, I’ve regretted it instantly.

Ours is a generation which cannot love. Where you cannot be soft. There’s no place for sensitivity. You’ll be eaten alive.

You have to seal yourself in a veneer of detachment. Because attachment is a weakness. Bare your soul and you’re a sucker.

So you go through the motions of everyday life, and no one really knows the real you. They know the vision you present, that carefully crafted veneer. 

I want to know people. What they really think, what circles their minds run in when left alone.

Oh, but that fear of rejection.

And so we plod on. Unloved, except by those who have to love us anyway. 

Lonely machines fuelled by nothing but the desire to be loved.

-Nayantara.

The day I let you go.

You dial his number

But don’t press call

You rode the highs,

So you must fall

Further than you have before



You see his name and feel it form

On reluctant lips

The ghosts of the past still linger

In the feel of him on your fingertips;

A million memories in store.



You see his face and can see

Seconds, minutes, days together

Tangling into a messy little infinity.

Time ticks by, days melting together

Someday you will learn to let it be



Your story began, it came to an end

A thousand different lifetimes did you spend

But darling, there will always be another bend

In the road.



And one day you will wake

On a morning like any other

You’ll see him and it won’t take

Your breath away

Or make your heart flutter

Before it breaks



You’ll see him and smile

And it won’t ache somewhere within

You’ll realise that after a while

It is not a sin

To let go.

-Gautami.